Wednesday, March 22, 2006

What’s Your Day Job?

Last night I went to hear Brian Steidle speak about his experience in Darfur. Mr. Steidle is a former Marine captain who served as the U.S. representative to the African Union's peacekeeping mission in Sudan. Armed with a camera and a pen, Brian took hundreds of pictures and is currently working on a documentary about the genocide. His talk was informative and insightful, and if he’s going to be anywhere near you, you need to go because he’s as close to an expert as there is on this subject. He explains the who, the what, the when, the where, and the why better than anything I’ve read, seen or heard.

I arrived to the event early. It had been pretty well publicized by Tennesseans Against Genocide, so I thought there might be a big crowd. I got a cup of coffee and found a seat close to the front on an empty row. A few minutes later, a group of about four or five people came in and sat on my row. Next to me sat a man with a cool hat. He was wearing jeans, a trendy jacket and had long hair and a little scruff on his face. He introduced himself first.

“Hi, my name’s Kenny,” he said.

“I’m Sam,” I replied.

“Nice to meet you Sam.”

I thought about asking him what he did for a living, but judging by his appearance he might not have been the type to have a day job. Because events like this attract all types (corporate execs, educators, hippies, retirees), I was afraid that if I asked he might think, “I’m not going to answer that question. This white guy in a tie (I had been working at the hotel earlier – my day job) thinks that my paycheck defines me and that I have to have a 'day job.' What a jerk.”

So, I sat quietly until some friends I knew came in and asked me to sit with them.

“Sorry, Kenny, but I’m going to go sit with some friends,” I said as I got up.

“Oh, I see how it is, Sam, you don’t want to sit by us,” he said, laughing.

“Nice to meet you, Kenny.”

“You too, Sam.”

Later, when Brian was done speaking, he took questions from the audience. Someone asked him what he thought the best course of action was for concerned people to take. Brian mentioned making donations, writing legislators, and raising awareness. Then, someone from Kenny’s row asked, “What about benefit concerts? I mean, we have half of Big and Rich right here.”

So that’s Kenny’s day job. I was unknowingly sitting next to Big Kenny, 50% of country sensation Big and Rich. It’s cool that Kenny cares about this situation, and just imagine if I had asked him what he did for a living:

“Uh, I’m a singer/songwriter/musician. And I have a like a million dollars.”

This of course sucks for Lynnette (who was home sick) because after living for Nashville for more than two years, she has still never seen a celebrity. Or maybe she has, but pegged them for having a different day job.

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